Torre Abbey Museum, Historic House, Gallery, Garden and Cafe

Est. in 1196, Torre Abbey is a museum of history and art housed in an Ancient Scheduled Monument on the iconic South Devon coast.

Based in Torquay, this family friendly museum is a centre for creativity and curiosity - initiating cultural conversations and inspiring local life through a seasonal programme of exhibitions, events and activities across visual arts, history and live performance.

Kids and teens up to 18 years go free, and the 1196 Club offers adult membership with unlimited visits from just £16 a year. Reasons aplenty to visit today.

It would be impossible to find a more appropriate showcase for Torbay’s art collection than historic Torre Abbey, home to some of theTorbay's leading citizens for over 800 years. The present appearance of the Galleries at Torre Abbey is largely due to the Cary family who, during the 18th century, refashioned the Abbey as a magnificent country house. Like all country houses, one of the Abbey’s functions was to provide an appropriate setting for its owners’ pictures and portraits, which as well as being intrinsically beautiful served to underline the family’s social standing by demonstrating their wealth, taste, patronage of the arts, and venerable family pedigree.

The present art collection is largely the result of donations or bequests made by local people since 1930, when the Council purchased Torre Abbey from the Cary family and turned it into an art gallery.

The Abbey's permanent collection is particularly rich in 19th century works. These generally reflect the taste of the genteel families, many from London, who bought villas in Torquay during the 19th century, in the days when it served as a fashionable winter resort. The collections include landscapes, marine and genre paintings by British artists, concentrating in particular on views of South Devon and its coastal waters, and works by local artists. The Friends of Torre Abbey was formed in 1992 to raise funds for the benefit of the collections, and has assisted with a number of recent purchases as well as making a substantial contribution to the restoration fund.

Torquay's Oldest Building

During a massive three-year restoration project some stunning finds have been unearthed including a 14th Century stone grave coverstone, featuring a tree-of-life carving in near-perfect condition. The slab was excavated from under the cloister walk and covered the grave of one of the Abbey's Saristan. Explore the ancient undercrofts of the Abbey, built in 1196 for the “White Canons”, named for their distinctive white habits.

The canons who lived here over 800 years ago, when Torquay did not exist and there was only a collections villages and small hamlets, followed a strict regime of silence and prayer. Their austere lives contrasted with their great wealth, gained from taxes or ‘tithes’ of grain and other produce from the Abbey’s vast lands. The Tithe Barn, built to store the grain, became known as the Spanish Barn after it served as a prison for 397 sailors captured from the Spanish Armada. This is now a popular and unique venue for exhibitions, weddings and special events.

Throughout the ages Torre Abbey has welcomed many thousands of visitors: weary travellers cared for by the canons, aristocrats and naval officers hosted by the Carys and Olympic hopefuls attending the 1947 sailing events in the bay. Visitors are now once again welcome to explore Torquay’s oldest and most fascinating building.

Torre Abbey
The King's Drive
tel: 01803 293 593

View my website

Profile Details

My News

Grinagog Festival nominated.... / <span itemprop="startDate" content="2017-10-05T00:00:00Z">Thu 05 Oct 2017</span>Grinagog Festival nominated.... / Thu 05 Oct 2017

Grinagog Festival has been nominated for Best New Festival at the UK Festival Awards. Please vote for us and share on social media so that all your friends can vote for us too. It would be nice to win and that would help...

"Get Into Programme" - Princes Trust in Torbay / Wed 21 Jun 2017

This summer the Prince’s Trust will be offering a unique opportunity to support young people’s creative ambitions, in partnership with Torre Abbey and Reach South West. Supporting 14 unemployed young people to develop th...

Torbay Museums - Volunteers Week / Thu 18 May 2017

Volunteers Week Volunteers play an important part of the success of many organisations in Torbay. They support and champion local visitor destinations, community day centres, health services, wildlife conservation, c...

My Events

Diva on your Doorstep : Soprano Claudia Alvarex Calderon / <span itemprop="startDate" content="2017-12-21T00:00:00Z">Thu 21 Dec 2017</span>Diva on your Doorstep : Soprano Claudia Alvarex Calderon / Thu 21 Dec 2017

International Soprano Claudia Alvarex Calderon and pianist Simon Dunbavand bring their entertaining show, Diva on your Doorstep: Access All Arias! to Torquay, with a Christmas twist. Claudia, originally from Peru, sings ...

Christmas Concert and Carols / <span itemprop="startDate" content="2017-12-16T00:00:00Z">Sat 16 Dec 2017</span>Christmas Concert and Carols / Sat 16 Dec 2017

The finale to Christmas by the Sea will be a wonderful festive concert. We are proud to welcome The Unidentified Family Orchestra and the Choral Engineers, plus special guests Dean Brodrick, Ben McCabe and Jackie Oat...

Murder Mystery Escape Room / <span itemprop="startDate" content="2017-11-09T00:00:00Z">Thu 09 Nov</span> to <span  itemprop="endDate" content="2017-12-14T00:00:00Z">Thu 14 Dec 2017</span> <span>(1 month)</span>Murder Mystery Escape Room / Thu 09 Nov to Thu 14 Dec 2017 (1 month)

The Death of a Party A fiendishly fun murder mystery escape room. Perfect for corporate events, groups of friends or a unique work outing. £60 per group (up to 8 people). Wealthy businessman Frank Lyman has been f...

My Opportunities

Volunteer Tour Guides: Heritage & Collections / Mon 12 Oct 2015

We are seeking to recruit 5 volunteers as Tour Guides for Torre Abbey’s Historic House and Collections. Through training new volunteer guides, we hope to raise awareness of Torre Abbey’s stunning collections of Fine and ...

Digital Spotlight Volunteers / Mon 12 Oct 2015

We are seeking 2 Digital Volunteers for Torre Abbey’s new Spotlight Project. Spotlight aims to raise awareness of Torre Abbey’s stunning collections of Fine and Applied Art, Social History and Archaeology. Who are we ...

My Videos

Face2Face is coming.....Face2Face is coming.....

The Face2Face exhibition is on all summer @Torreabbey full details Here...

My Audio

Judi Spiers on BBC Radio Devon interviews Rodney Peppé

‘It's marvellous stuff… it's one of those things you look at and you see something new every time…’ Listen to Rodney Peppé talking about his latest exhibition, The Wonderful World of Rodney Peppé at Torre Abbey. Full de...

Jo Loosemore on BBC Radio Devon interviewing Rodney Peppé

‘Prepare you‘re about to travel in a pirate kettle ship, possibly even a flying basket, a travel machine, a clockwork bus, in a lunar module egg box…. This is the wonderful world (…) of Rodney Peppé.’ Listen to Rodney P...